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What we do

cat and dog
The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is the national voice of member humane societies and SPCAs, which serve animals in communities large and small, urban and rural, English and French, in every province across Canada. We bring together those who work with and care for animals to promote respect and humane treatment toward all animals – in the home, on the farm, in the lab and in the wild.

Our work falls into the following categories:

Strengthening and supporting humane societies and SPCAs

CFHS helps humane societies and SPCAs across Canada better serve the animals in their communities by providing them with support, expertise, professional development and opportunities for nationwide collaboration on legislation, policy development and public education.

Through our weekly newsletters, the annual CFHS National Animal Welfare Conference and original, Canadian research, we keep humane societies and SPCAs up-to-date on emerging animal welfare issues, training and funding opportunities and best practices in animal sheltering, humane education, legislation and advocacy. For our member organizations, we offer many additional supports, including one-on-one guidance, critical information about the sector and members-only webinars.

We also help humane societies and SPCAs carry out humane education programs by administering the McGrand Trust, a capital fund left to CFHS by Senator Frederic A. McGrand to support animal welfare work in Atlantic Canada. CFHS awards grants from this trust to organizations in the Maritimes for humane education projects.

For more information on how we help member organizations and how to apply for membership, click here.

For a list of our member organizations, click here.

Public education

Since being founded in 1957, CFHS has earned a solid reputation as the “go to” national voice on animal welfare issues for the media, government, non-governmental organizations and the public. We provide leadership on animal welfare issues and ensure crucial messages are heard and understood from coast to coast to coast.

In recent years, our key public education efforts have included:

  • Developing the first and only national report on Canada’s humane societies and SPCAs, which outlines the sector’s successes, achievements and challenges
  • Releasing annual statistics on intake and outcomes for companion animals in Canada’s humane societies and SPCAs
  • Promoting the adoption of homeless pets from humane societies and SPCAs and creating more public awareness about these essential institutions
  • Raising awareness of puppy mills and backyard breeders, and of how to acquire pets responsibly from humane, reputable sources
  • Educating Canadians on principles of responsible pet ownership, such as spaying and neutering and providing permanent identification
  • Calling public attention to the suffering experience by livestock during transportation, due to unacceptably long transport times, overcrowded trucks and other problems

We raise awareness about these issues through our website, media presence, newsletters, in-depth reports, public service announcements, editorials and letters to the editor. Our newsletters reach an estimated 10,000 readers across Canada, and we are regularly contacted by national media outlets and major daily newspapers to comment on animal welfare issues. We use both to reach an even wider audience of Canadians with our key messages.

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter here.

Advocacy for improved animal protection laws and policies

In addition to educating Canadians about the shortcoming of current animal protection laws, we work proactively to shape the drafting and adoption of progressive changes to inadequate laws, regulations, corporate policies and industry practices. Current campaigns in this area include:

  • Amendments to the Criminal Code: For almost 20 years, CFHS has spearheaded a campaign to push for much-needed amendments to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws. The current animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code were written in 1892 and are full of loopholes that allow many animal abusers to fall through the cracks. For more information about this issue,please go here.
  • Improving animal transport regulations: CFHS is actively promoting improvements to the federal regulations covering animal transportation. After a ten-year process, a draft update to the transportation regulations for Canada’s farm animals was released on December 7, 2016. The updated regulations still do not go far enough in addressing unacceptably long transport times, overcrowded trucks and other problems causing needless suffering for farm animals. For more information about this issue, click here.

Research and collaboration to address other areas of concern

CFHS regularly consults and collaborates with representatives from government, industry and the non-profit sector to address key animal welfare challenges in Canada. Here are a few examples of the issues we’re tackling by working together with other stakeholders:

  • As a founding member of the National Companion Animal Coalition, CFHS has helped establish the Canadian standard for microchip identification of pets, ensuring that lost pets can be more easily reunited with their owners regardless of where in Canada they are found. Other projects we’ve worked on as part of the National Companion Animal Coalition include the development of model animal control bylaws for municipalities and public education on dog bite prevention.
  • CFHS has an ex-officio role on the animal welfare committee of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). This is a very active committee that addresses a broad spectrum of animal welfare issues, including farm husbandry practices, pet care, animal abuse and the seal hunt.
  • CFHS is a founding member of the National Farm Animal Care Council and the only animal welfare organization represented on the council. The official goal of the council is to implement a comprehensive and strategic approach to farm animal care in Canada, which includes reviewing and revising national codes of practice for the treatment of farm animals. CFHS participates in the development and review of these codes with the goal of creating better living environments and more humane treatment for farmed animals. We also give direct input on agriculture policy at the federal and provincial/territorial level.
  • In 2015, CFHS launched the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty (NCPAC). NCPAC designs and delivers training to the prosecution community that reflect current best practices in animal cruelty prosecution in order to improve consistency and outcomes across the country. We also maintain a bilingual Canada-wide database of animal cruelty case law. Click here to find out more.
  • CFHS produces annual national animal shelter statistics to track outcomes for homeless companion animals in Canada’s humane societies and SPCAs. Click here to read our most recent report.


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